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Diversity and coverage of seagrass ecosystems in south-west Madagascar

  • Wednesday, 04 September 2013 15:03
Hantanirina, J.M.O. and Benbow, S. 2013. African Journal of Marine Science 35 (2): 291–297

Abstract

Seagrass meadows provide important nursery and feeding grounds for many commercially valuable fish species. Here, we address the paucity of published information on the status of seagrasses in Madagascar by documenting the results from ecological surveys of 11 seagrass beds in Velondriake, a locally managed marine area (LMMA) in south-west Madagascar. The diversity and coverage of meadows was highest in the north of the LMMA with up to 51% coverage, and lowest in the south (26%). Overall, eight seagrass species were recorded: Cymodocea rotundata, C. serrulata, Halodule uninervis, Halophila ovalis, H. stipulacea, Syringodium isoetifolium, Thalassia hemprichii and Thalassodendron ciliatum. We discuss the natural and anthropogenic factors that may account for the observed low diversity of seagrasses in southern Velondriake, including overfishing, beach-seining, cyclones, siltation and mangrove deforestation. Based on these baseline surveys, as well as discussions with local communities, it is recommended that measures should be taken to reinforce efforts to ban beach-seines and that the role of seagrasses as carbon sinks and potential sustainable financing options through blue carbon initiatives should be investigated through further, more detailed surveys.